These are the hardest 3 days of the NHL season for die hard fans whose team has made it successfully to the NHL playoffs and the search for the Stanley Cup. These 3 days between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs can be excruciating (which is funny because there is still such a long road ahead. The Cup will not be awarded for another 2 months. I am excited because, for the first time in my life, my team (the Boston Bruins) enter as the defending champs. In reality, all that means is that my time to gloat about my favorite team winning it all is running out, unless they can put together another amazing run.
I love hockey. Watching it, following it, remembering the wonderful playoff hockey pools that my friends and I would have – I was always lousy at it, but it was a fun, social activity. However, I have come to learn through the research for these blog posts, that hockey players are less likely to be followers of Christ than any other major North American Sport. Their stories are harder to find – maybe it is because interest in hockey is not as wide spread as other sports (although being from Canada, I find that hard to believe because it is so entrenched in our culture).
So when I do find these stories, I love to share them. I will look into some of the playoff hockey teams in the days and weeks to come and will (hopefully) find a few of these stories to share.
We will start with the story of Mike Fisher. He has been playing in the NHL since 1999, playing for the Ottawa Senators for 12 years before a trade sent him to the Nashville Predators. Check out this video by CBN about Fisher’s faith and God-centered life.
For more on Fisher’s story,you can read the book about his life (something I hope to do soon) visit his website, or check out this blog post from Chad Bonham over at Inspiring Athletes. Fisher talks about trusting God’s plan even when life is hard – and knowing that life WILL be hard! He also shares the way that complete trust is important and necessary to a good and strong marriage. His wife, country music singer Carrie Underwood, and he have different schedules that has them both traveling (and apart) often. Trust is something that needs to grow, needs to develop by having the other person prove to be worthy of that trust.
Fisher also discusses trust and how, like with anyone else, trust is so important to growing a strong relationship with God. The difference is that God is always trustworthy and will not let us down like people tend to do from time to time. One of the people I most relate to in the Bible is the father in Mark 9. The man’s son has been battling this issue all of his life, where he, possessed by a demon, will writhe and seize, throwing himself into the fire or water, and has him gnashing teeth and foaming at the mouth. The father comes to Jesus and asks “if you can do anything, please help us” Jesus replies – “Anything is possible for one who believes”. The father replies very honestly. ” I do believe, help my unbelief”.
How often do we find ourselves in this place. We know what God has said, and we know what God can do, and still we doubt. We can recite countless stories about God doing impossible things, but we have a hard time believing that he can do something in our situation. I love that father’s answer for a couple of reasons.
#1 – because I am often there. Wanting to believe but afraid to get my hopes up. Afraid that if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, that I will either blame God for letting me down, or blaming myself, searching for sin in my life or some other way that I misread what God was doing.
And #2 – It is a reminder that we don’t need to have it all together. We don’t need to have it all figured out. The disciples in the story didn’t have it all figured out either. They had been praying for healing and freedom from this demon and it had not worked. We all tend to struggle and doubt from time to time. We lose sight of what God has done, and don’t believe that he can help us.
For this reason, I find this story very reassuring. It is OK to let God know that we do believe in him, but we struggle sometimes to REALLY believe. He’s OK with that. He is not going to to tell us that we blew our chance. He will lovingly remind us that belief in Him will show us impossible things being possible. And the more we are called to trust on God, the more we will see him prove faithful and trust-worthy and the stronger our faith will grow.
Hockey playoffs start tonight. The Predators take on the Red Wings. I’m not a big fan of the Red Wings, so I hope that the Predators take the series. I hope Mike Fisher is a big part of the reason why. And I wish him lots of success, unless Nashville meets up with the Bruins in the Finals. Enjoy the playoffs hockey fans!